K-Dawg Tearing It Up

Bravo to Kelly Dwyer for these gems:


I love watching Dallas’ Jason Terry and Golden State’s Baron Davis go at it, especially while taking into context their respective career arcs. Both were drafted in 1999, with Davis going to a ready-made playoff contender in Charlotte that had hopped up the lottery. By his second season, he was starting on a conference semifinalist. Terry, meanwhile, had to toil away in relative obscurity with the Atlanta Hawks, earning an unfair label of a wild chucker on a bad team. The Hawks stunk, but it was Davis that boasted the chucker instincts, while Terry honed his craft with a more subdued screen-and-roll attack with whatever defensively challenged power forward the Hawks brought in that year.

Now they’re going back and forth in the midst of an ultra-exciting first round matchup between the Warriors and Mavericks, and I have to wonder if Terry’s regressed a little. The stats are there (almost 20 points a game), but his shooting percentage is down, and he was killing Dallas in Game 4 with his inability to get Dirk Nowitzki the ball. Nowitzki deserves plenty of blame for not being more aggressive, and he is being zoned away from easy looks for most of the game, but Terry has to find ways to lob him the rock with the 6-7 Mickael Pietrus guarding the Maverick All-Star. Dallas is done if he doesn’t.


It isn’t first-time playoff jitters, or shot-happy point guards, or a lack of energy — the real reason Toronto’s Chris Bosh is having an up-and-down postseason is the defensive play of New Jersey’s Jason Collins. Bosh is averaging just under 18 points per game on 43 percent shooting, down from a regular season that saw him throw in 22.6 points per game while making half his shots. Though Bosh has had his moments during Toronto’s first-round series, Collins’ athletic defense, exemplary footwork and exquisite timing has kept the Raptor big man from taking over.

Collins continues to be underrated. We’re not saying he should be playing 30 minutes a night; his pathetic offense and poor rebounding can hurt a team in the long run. But he’s as good a defensive player as this league boasts. The idea that he garnered zero Defensive Player of the Year votes (or, one less than Kobe Bryant), that hurts.


A recent trend you shouldn’t pay much attention to: commentators pointing to field goal defense allowed as a way of gauging defensive aptitude.

Now, it certainly helps a team’s defensive case if it holds the opponent to a certain mark from the floor, but it’s far from an end-all stat. For instance, Chicago led the NBA in field goal percentage allowed during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, but were those Bulls teams the best defensive team in the NBA? Hardly. Scott Skiles’ team sent its opponents to the free throw line at an alarming rate, and its rash of turnovers on the other end allowed for several extra possessions per game in which the opponents could throw in a bucket or six. Neither of these realities can be accounted for when pointing to field goal percentage defense.

At the end of the day, just go with points allowed, adjusted for pace, as your end-all. Ironically, Chicago led the NBA in that stat in 2006-07, despite finishing second to the Houston Rockets for the lead in field goal percentage defense. The difference this season? More calls going in Chicago’s favor, and less chance for the opponents to alter the score from the line.

AND there’s more. He starts the article talking about Kirilenko, using 82games, and what team would benefit most from getting him (and no it’s not the Knicks). Think about it for a second before you read the article. Which team would most benefit from AK-47? Dwyer hits on a few other things, including the Bowen-AI-‘Melo relationship, Jason Kidd’s series, Antonio Daniels and Rich Kelley.


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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

13 thoughts to “K-Dawg Tearing It Up”

  1. Everybody is making a big deal about Dirk having a huge height advantage over his defenders, and how that should lead to easier baskets for him in the low post, but it’s been clear from the first few games, that this is not going to happen against the Warriors.

    He’s getting pushed out too far from the basket, his teammates can’t get him the ball, and the double teams are on him right away.

    But the thing about height advantage is that it’s also important at the three point line. Because Dirk is so much taller than his defenders and has a high release, it’s almost impossible for them to block his shot.

    I wonder if he’s going to go Michael Jordan v. Portland Trail Blazers and just start jacking up shots from outside. If he hits 40$ from three-point land, that’ll be a great improvement over the offense he has thus far provided in this series.

  2. the mavs look like that good suburban team playing in a city tournament for the first time and just completely wet their pants.

    i can’t figure out why dirk’s not posting them inside. his fadeaway threes are playing right into nelly’s hands.

  3. I blame Avery Johnson. The Mavericks seem completely unprepared for the Warriors, and Dirk keeps going back to the usual Maverick offense (pass, pass, pass some more and eventually SOMEone will be open) and it clearly isn’t working.

    Johnson needs to tell him he can try to take over the game.

    And they REALLY need to stop playing so sloppy.

  4. This is a situation where not having a true point guard has really hurt the team. Terry and Harris just don’t pass the ball well enough for him to get clean catches where he needs it.

  5. What I want to know is, when are the Mavs planning on playing defense? Any defense?

    They’ve managed to “hold” Golden State to under 50% eFG in game one (49.3%). Yet, Golden State, an admittedly terrible defense during the regular season has flipped on its “defense” button, holding Dallas to under 50% eFG in every game.

    What was supposed to make this Dallas team nigh invulnerable was its commitment at the defensive end. That’s what I’m not seeing. Dallas, in its half-court offense, is a jump-shooting team, thus prone to stretches of cold shooting. But where’s the D? The Mavs don’t appear to be winning a single important defensive matchup.

    I don’t think Dallas can shoot its way out of this. Dallas should be getting wins in games where they shoot 49.3% and 49.4% eFG, as in games 2 and 4, but they didn’t guard anybody. Golden State shot 52.6% and 54.1% in those games. That’s terrible.

    All the talk is about the Dallas offense. The defensive collapse is the thing I find breathtaking.

    Last year Phoenix got down 3-1 before finding out that they did need to guard to advance out of the first round. It’ll be interesting to see if Dallas is made of the same stuff.

  6. I still think Terry is the best PG for this team, I truly believe that, and I love his game. I spend half the Mavs games I watch (the closer ones) yelling at him to be more agressive in looking for his own shot.

    But he’s got to throw the ball up, and trust Dirk’s hands. Just lob it in there.



  7. I don’t really agree with Dwyer’s take that the Suns should trade a top 5 pick for Kirilenko. If he’s in shape next season, Boris Diaw is already about as similar a player to AK as there is in the league. However, his far better assist rate, run-jump athleticism, and decent 3 pt stroke make him a better fit for the Suns’ system.

    Furthermore, this move would reduce the Suns, already a below average rebounding team, from a team with three above average rebounders to a team with one above average rebounder. Kurt Thomas is gone in Dwyer’s scenario and Marion’s rebound rate would probably decline if he were strictly a perimeter defender. That leaves only Amare to grab the boards necessary to start the Suns’ high octane attack.
    KT is also a very good, physical man defender in the post. A skill that becomes particularly valuable in the postseason, as Dwyer points out with the Nets’ Jason Collins.

    Provided that the Hawks don’t win a top 3 pick, in which case they retain the pick, the Suns are in a great position with a 4-7 pick (depending on how the lottery turns out) in what’s considered to be one of the strongest draft classes in history and neither an obvious need to address nor the need for an immediate contributor.
    They could make a long-term investment in a raw or uncertain prospect like Yi Jianlian, Brandan Wright, or even Hasheem Thabeet. (A bit scary after Detroit’s Darko experience, although you could also think Tyrus Thomas on the Bulls.) Take an immediate contributor to make their team even scarier and deeper. And/or draft the eventual replacement or upgrade for an aging player: Conley for Nash, Brewer for Bell, or Hortford for Thomas.
    If they play their cards right the Suns could end up with a player who is immediately better than AK, or a player who is about as good, younger, and doesn’t step on the toes of Diaw and Marion.

  8. it seems like every team is in a better position to improve going into the offseason than the Knicks. ..We’re ‘sitting pretty’ at the bottom of the lottery with out a pick. we are lottery bound til 2012

  9. No way the Suns add salary this season, a la Kirilenko. More likely they dump salary, trade Marion or Stoudamire for a big-time player on a rookie contract.

    I don’t think Diaw and Kirilenko are similar, either… AK is a much better defender (and at least as good an athlete), while Diaw is a much better playmaker. Neither one has a dependable 3-point shot as far as I can tell.

    Diaw would be a decent fit for the Knicks, in that he doesn’t need the ball to be effective, but wouldn’t offer the same defensive upgrade.

    I don’t think either is worth the size of their contract, for a team like NYK that has so far to go before being a contender.

  10. The Kirilenko to the Suns idea is just plain crazy. Aside from Stoudamire, you have to be able to shoot the three to work in that offense — the inability to do so is why KT doesn’t get much run. The reason is spacing. For the Nash/Stoudamire (or Diaw) pick and roll to work — and they run it almost every time down the court — they need the other three guys aroudn the three point lane to open up space. (Often Marion will start at the three point line and when a doubel comes off him, he has enough space to go to the basket for a lob).

    The player they should have made a move for is Steven Jackson. He would have been a natural fit.

  11. Caleb:

    Why do you say that the Suns won’t add any salary, and may look to dump salary, this offseason? If they got a deal that they felt made their team better I’m sure they would gladly dump salary, but what attainable player on his rookie contract are they going to trade an important piece (Marion or Stoudemire) of their 61 win championship contender for? Furthermore, they’ll already get salary cap relief after next season when Kurt Thomas’ $8 mill deal expires and, if he’s not extended, the follwing year when Shawn Marion can opt for free agency.

    Saying Diaw is as similar to Kirilenko as any player in the league was an overstatement on my part (but really, who else? Josh Smith). All I meant by it was that Diaw’s a similarly versatile defender, able to guard any position 1-5. AK’s certainly much better at creating turnovers, but Diaw is a pretty good defender in his own right.

    By saying that Diaw is a better run-jump athlete I meant that he’s the kind of athlete who excels in an up-tempo attack, leading or finishing on the break. His statistical superiority creating for teammates and shooting the 3 also seem to make him a better fit for the Suns offense (Diaw might not be a deadeye shooter, but he’s at least efficient hitting 33% of 3s on 0.6 attempts per, while AK hits only 21% on 1.1 attempts per). Maybe AK’s numbers would look similar in the Suns efficient, fast paced offense, but, then again, he was playing on the league’s 3rd most efficient offense this year already. The Jazz offense played at an average pace so maybe the increased pace would benefit AK, don’t know.

  12. I have no inside knowledge but Bob Sarver, the Suns’ owner, is pretty public about not wanting to go into luxury tax territory. Their payroll jumps up next year when the Diaw and Barbosa extensions kick in. Based on that, a lot of the commentators (e.g. Chad Ford and then Henry Abbott this morning) are predicting that Phoenix will scale back.

    That said, I agree it would be tricky to find
    value. Maybe they would offer Stoudamire for Dwight Howard, which would save them more than $10 million (next year, before Howard’s extension kicks in). Or, if Phoenix gets Atlanta’s pick – like #4 – they could offer that and Stoudamire in exchange for Greg Oden.

    I think this is accurate:

    p.s. I love Josh Smith

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